Meditation can do wonders for anxious minds. But for those of us who have motor control challenges, sitting still and focusing can be a huge and impossible undertaking. I want to share some thoughts on how I am approaching meditation. I hope it is helpful!
I am not a seasoned meditation practitioner. But I have found great benefits from practicing meditation over the past year. I meditate with my sister, listening to guided meditations by Thich Nhat Hanh on YouTube1. We use a singing bowl – like a bell – that I enjoy ringing at intervals to bring my focus to the sound. Maybe I ring it too loudly, but it calms me!
We sit outdoors if weather allows, and I sit on a cushion for comfort. I try to close my eyes, but it is hard to keep them close without scrunching them up. So I try instead to gaze upon something that captivates me. This might be a flickering shadow of a leaf in the wind, or a view of distant hills, or a video graphic of a flower opening and closing to the rhythm of breathing.
I also try to breathe steadily, but this can be hard. So I try to do what I can: I follow my sister’s sound of inhales and exhales, I listen to the mantras and try to remember their rhythm, and I also give myself permission to not be perfect in my breathing.
As for sitting, that is sometimes a big challenge! But I try to set myself up to do my best. This means not trying to force it when I am already a bit dysregulated, not always making myself sit the whole time, and choosing to try during my good days.
My sister also adapts to my needs. She will ask me how long I want to meditate for, where I want to sit, and what kind of guided meditation I want. She helps me start by gently coaching me: Breathe in, Breathe out. She helps me get back in that rhythm if I start losing focus. And she continues her own practice even through my often distracting behavior. There is no pressure to be perfect.
And I learned that meditation can be done while walking or being on a stationary bike or doing routine chores. It is not a strict activity or regimented practice. It is an approach to be more aware and grounded. It is not a competition or evaluated performance.
So I encourage anyone to try to adapt the practice to make it more accessible. Sometimes, the best I can do is just listen to a guided meditation as I pace around. It still helps me. Even a bit of effort to pause and reflect helps. I hope you can find a way to benefit, too!
1Some of the videos we use:
Flower Fresh 10-Minute Guided Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
Calm – Ease Guided Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
There is Only Sitting – Guided Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
We are going to check out the Plum Village App. We tried other apps, but found that the YouTube videos were better for us; other Speller families have shared that they like Calm, Headspace, and Sattva.